Sunday, December 30, 2007

The poet's congenital subject

Recently, a very great deal has been said about the relation of the poet to his community and to other people, and as the propaganda on behalf of the community and other people gathers momentum a great deal more will be said. But if a poet's subject is congenital this is beside the point. Or is it? The ivory tower was offensive if the man who lived in it wrote, there, of himself for himself. It was not offensive if he used it because he could do nothing without concentration, as no one can, and because, there, he could most effectively struggle to get at his subject, even if his subject happened to be the community and other people, and nothing else. It may be that the poet's congenital subject is precisely the community and other people.

-- Wallace Stevens, "Effects of Analogy," ca. 1948

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